Teresa Marsano has been stopping traffic to share her message of life.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
On a mission with Our Lady to end abortion
Our Lady of Guadalupe stopped traffic in an El Cerrito parking lot.
The driver of a construction truck, leaving the premises at the end of the work day, hit the brakes, turned on the flashing red lights and jumped out of the cab at the rare sight.
A 6-foot-by-4-foot digital image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, created by scanning the original Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe enshrined in the Basilica in Mexico City, was propped up against the back of a blue Honda CRV.
Standing next to her was Teresa Marsano, a woman on a mission.
"I saw her," the driver told Marsano. "I had to stop."
Marsano smiled. "He had to stop," she said. "They can't pass her by."
It's a scene Marsano has witnessed repeatedly over the past two months.
On the day after Ash Wednesday, Marsano set out on a journey to pray in front of every abortion clinic — more than 150 — in California. On weekends, she's accompanied by Dora Lee Raras. On weekdays, it's Our Lady who is her co-pilot. They make three stops a day, sometimes four, on Our Lady's Mission for Life.
Her 13 scheduled stops in the Diocese of Oakland included a dinner and procession with 75 people at St. Mary in Walnut Creek, as well as a chance encounter with a group from St. David of Wales Parish in Richmond, St. Joseph Parish in Pinole; and St. Patrick Parish in Rodeo, that prays at 10 a.m. every Wednesday at the Planned Parenthood Richmond Hilltop. There she witnessed the arrival of a school bus, dropping off students, she surmised, "for services."
The mission, begun with the blessing of the Most Rev. Richard Garcia, bishop of Monterey, was quick. Her bishop contacted respect life directors in each parish who were asked to contact diocesan groups. There was little lead time. No sponsors were solicited. The guardians of the Missionary Images, Dan Lynch Apostolates, gave the radiant image to Marsano.
At the request of St. John Paul II, the bishops of Mexico blessed and commissioned the Missionary Images to bring conversions, reverence for life, sanctity of the family and solidarity to the Church.
The framed image is hinged in the middle, allowing the image to be folded to fit in the back seat. You could say she is looking over Marsano's shoulder as she drives. At the midway point, she had put 3,100 miles on her Honda, which is decorated with pro-life stickers.
The turnouts at the abortion clinics have been up and down. At her stop in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Marsano said, Bishop Robert Vasa led the Stations of the Cross.
If there's not crowd, "I'll sit then and pray," as she did in El Cerrito, walking back and forth in front of the frosted glass doors of the Planned Parenthood office.
Armed with prayer cards in English and Spanish, she prays the same prayer in front of each abortion clinic.
As she explained to construction workers leaving at the end of their workday, abortion takes place nearby.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is a longtime opponent of abortion, she told the workers, going back to her appearance in 1531. "They didn't want to sacrifice their own to the sun god," she said of the women of that time. "Neither do these girls," she said, gesturing toward the Planned Parenthood office.
"She's here and I'm here," she said, "to make sure this place closes with the rest of them."
On discerning the mission, she said, her bishop's blessing was important. "I couldn't do it without his blessing," she said. Her bishop's response also included his willingness to write a letter, asking respect life directors in each diocese, for their assistance.
"No aborto," she told one person who approached. "It makes her heart (Our Lady's) cry."
Some people have said they will see Marsano next year, but she doubts that.
"It's a first-ever, last-ever," she said. "We're not going to need to."
"This is for real," she said. "She needed to be here. Here's where the thread will unravel.
"She will bring her Son to the doors of Planned Parenthood."
Marsano said she would come back for a "celebration of closure."
"Protests are for yelling and screaming," said Marsano, whose mission has included neither. She smiled at the image of Our Lady, sparkling in the later afternoon sun. "She wants a peaceful end."
"That's a conversion of the heart."
To those who ask, what are we going to do without abortion?, Marsano said, "We'll figure it out."
But she has an idea of what that world looks like.
"We'll care for each other, and love each other and open our homes for each other," she said.
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